Tourists flock­ing to cities that Xi vis­ited

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By FU JING in Brus­sels fu­jing@chi­ Xi­ang Chen con­trib­uted to this story.

Euro­pean cities that Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping has vis­ited in re­cent years have seen the num­ber of Chi­nese tourists soar in the past few months.

Tourism of­fices in Davos, Switzer­land; Prague, Czech Repub­lic; and Helsinki, Fin­land, say that the num­ber of tourists has risen sig­nif­i­cantly since Jan­uary.

“The in­ter­est of Chi­nese peo­ple in Davos has been mas­sive since the visit of Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi,” said Fredi Michel, des­ti­na­tion man­ager of the Davos Tourism Of­fice.

Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from Michel’s of­fice, the to­tal num­ber of Chi­nese tourists ar­riv­ing in Davos stood at 2,766 from Jan­uary to April this year. The num­ber for the first four months was a yearon-year in­crease of 38 per­cent.

Xi at­tended the an­nual gath­er­ing of the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Davos, a ski re­sort in Switzer­land, in Jan­uary, and he de­liv­ered the key­note speech, in which he ad­vo­cated free trade and glob­al­iza­tion.

The town has of­fered var­i­ous pro­grams for Chi­nese tourists, rang­ing from ski, sports, ad­ven­ture, arts and cul­tures, and it has em­ploy­ees who speak Chi­nese to meet the ris­ing de­mand.

“This is a rather promis­ing be­gin­ning,” said Song Shuyao, a ski in­struc­tor with the Davos Tourism Of­fice.

Song said in­ter­na­tional ho­tels in the city have be­gun of­fer­ing Man­darin-lan­guage ser­vice, hot drink­ing wa­ter and Chi­nese cui­sine. Song’s tourism of­fice is also pre­par­ing a Chi­nese ver­sion of its web­site.

The sit­u­a­tion is sim­i­lar in Prague, which Pres­i­dent Xi vis­ited in early 2016. Ac­cord­ing to Prague City Tourism, the num­ber of Chi­nese tourists in the Czech cap­i­tal in­creased by 49 per­cent in the first quar­ter of the year. From Jan­uary to March, Prague had 42,190 Chi­nese vis­i­tors, who ac­counted for 70,492 overnight stays.

Barbora Hruba, spokes­woman for Prague City Tourism, said her city has trained tourist guides who speak Chi­nese and pre­pared Chi­nese-lan­guage brochures, and it has a Chi­nese ver­sion of its tourism web­site.

Lucy Wang, cus­tomer man­ager of Glory Travel Agency in Prague, said the num­ber of Chi­nese tourists has con­tin­ued to in­crease in re­cent years, and their spend­ing has risen as well. Man­darin Ori­en­tal, a ho­tel in Prague, con­firmed that more Chi­nese vis­i­tors have stayed at the ho­tel since Pres­i­dent Xi’s visit.

Early statis­tics in­di­cate that the num­ber of Chi­nese tourists vis­it­ing the Czech Repub­lic is ex­pected to in­crease to 500,000 this year, a ten­fold in­crease from 2012.

In Helsinki, the cap­i­tal of Fin­land, which Xi vis­ited in April, the city’s tourism statis­tics show that the num­ber of Chi­nese tourists soared by 74.2 per­cent in the first quar­ter of the year to a to­tal of 26,700. In Jan­uary alone, the num­ber was up by 136 per­cent year-on-year.

2,766 Chi­nese tourists vis­ited Davos from Jan­uary to April this year.

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